What's the difference between Dell's Active Pen and Premium Active Pen?

The Premium Active Pen is the best overall digital stylus you can get from Dell, offering a wide range of helpful features on top of fantastic basic functionality. However, it's expensive, so only people who are planning to do advanced things like create artwork should opt for it. People who are planning on more simple tasks like taking notes or jotting down a schedule should go with the regular Active Pen instead, as it offers great basic functionality for a much lower price.

Premium vs. Regular: More functionality or lower price?

The Dell Latitude 7400 2-in-1 with a Dell Premium Active Pen

The Dell Latitude 7400 2-in-1 with a Premium Active Pen. (Image credit: Windows Central)

Overall, the main thing you need to consider when choosing between these two digital styluses is whether or not you want to spend the extra money in order to get your hands on all of the great things that the Premium Active Pen has to offer.

The 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity is amazing for people who like to draw, especially if you're making artwork for a job. It gives you the ability to perform incredibly nuanced strokes that a simpler pen simply cannot do. The fact that it can be used while tilted is also a big plus, as this further opens the door for artists to use advanced shading techniques or fill in the edges of the screen easier.

The extra programmable button is helpful too, and the fact that the Premium Active Pen works with Microsoft Pen Protocol (MPP) devices in addition to AES 1.0 and 2.0 ones like the Dell Latitude 7400 2-in-1 means that you can use it across a wide range of machines, which gives you versatility and the ability to save money on an MPP stylus down the line. It's also worth noting that the Dell Premium Active Pen works for the latest XPS 13 and XPS 15 devices, while the standard Active Pen does not.

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Header Cell - Column 0 Premium Active PenActive Pen
Pressure sensitivity levels4,0962,048
Programmable buttons32
Tilt supportYesNo
Supported device typesAES 1.0 and 2.0, Microsoft Pen Protocol (MPP)AES 1.0
Magnetic connectionYesYes

Don't count out the regular Active Pen, though. The 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity is nothing to scoff at, and while it won't be ideal for artists, it's perfect for note-taking, schedule-planning, simple doodling, and web browsing. Having two programmable buttons instead of three is a little disappointing, but those two buttons will still come in handy. Also, it's considerably less expensive, so if you don't need anything super advanced, the standard Active Pen is a wonderful way to save money.

Brendan Lowry

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.